“This is our interpretation of a wonderful savoury–sweet bread we tasted in the oasis town of Mahan in the south-east of Iran. Cumin is grown in abundance in the region and is used to flavour many of the local dishes, often in combination with turmeric. “
They usually make these breads in the heart shape in Iran. I have made some in the heart shape and some round ones.
Here goes the recipe :
For the dough:
Flour ( all purpose flour or self raising flour ) .... 3 and 3/4 cups
Active dry yeast ..... 1 tsp
Warm water ... 1/8 cup
Cumin seeds ... 2 and 1/2 tsps (roasted and slightly crushed)
Sugar ... 1/4 cup
Turmeric powder ... 1/2 tsp
Salt ....... 1/2 tsp
Egg ... 1 (optional)
Warm milk ... 2/3 cups
Olive oil ... 1 and 1/2 tbsps
For the filling:
Dates ... 12 - 15 ( Pitted and cut into pieces)
Butter ...25 gms (unsalted at room temperature)
Cardamom powder ... 1/2 tsp
Take 1/8 cup warm water and add 1 tbsp sugar. Sprinkle the yeast and leave it in the warm place for about 8-10 mins until it becomes frothy.
Mix the turmeric and crushed cumin seeds into the flour (save a tsp of cumin seeds for sprinkling on top) Knead into a dough adding the olive oil, salt and remaining sugar with warm milk. Also add egg if you are using it. I did not add in the dough but used the egg white for glazing.
After kneading, shape the dough into a ball and place it in the oiled bowl. Cover it and set it aside in a warm place to rise until double.(about an hour or so. In winter it may take longer)
Shape it into a ball and again set it aside for a second rise until double.
In the meanwhile prepare the filling by mixing the butter, dates and cardamom powder.
Remove the dough after it is risen the second time. Divide into 8 portions first.
Roll out into a longer rectangular strip about 1/4" - 1/8" thick. Spoon a littlle filling in the bottom portion, brush the surface with water and fold it over the filling. Make sure to seal them well because they swell and open up during the baking process.
Cut it into any shape using a cookie cutter. Place them on a greased tray or butter paper leaving enough space between them
Repeat the same with the rest of the dough. You can make use of the dough left out from the cuttings also to make more rolls using different shape cookie cutters.
Let them sit for about 15 minutes. Brush them with milk or egg white and sprinkle the remaining cumin powder over them. Press it lightly to stick.
(Adapted from Saraban – A Chef’s Journey Through Persia by Greg & Lucy Malouf) http://www.amazon.in/Saraban-Chefs-Journey-through-Persia/dp/1742705138
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